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China’s nuclear weapons modernisation is relatively small: China not wanting to attack USA

Is China Really Threatening America with Nuclear Weapons? , National Interest, Asia Times, 20 Feb 18 China, according to the Federation of American Scientists, has 270 warheads in its nuclear arsenal.

The Washington-based research group’s estimate has never been challenged by the Pentagon. It compares with an official tally of 4,480 nuclear warheads for the US. Unlike the American side, China also renounces “first use” of nuclear weapons and holds that its ability to retaliate is sufficient to deter attack.

 Why, then, is Beijing’s modernization of its nuclear arsenal — something that Washington is also doing — considered a major security threat requiring a sharp turn in US policy regarding the use of nuclear weapons?

That’s part of the reasoning behind the Pentagon’s 2018 Nuclear Posture Review(NPR) issued on February 2. The document is a benchmark US statement on nuclear policy and is drawn up by new presidents. The Trump administration’s first policy position on the issue focuses on creating new nuclear deterrents to Russia and China, while addressing North Korean and Iranian nuclear ambitions.

……..  critics contend the latest NPR reverses years of bipartisan consensus on the use of US nuclear weapons. The review also gives the go-ahead to develop low-yield tactical nukes and sub-launched cruise missiles in the first roll-out of new US nuclear weapons since the end of the Cold War. It also expands the circumstances under which the US would consider using nukes to include “non-nuclear strategic attacks” such as cyberattacks.

……….Chinese not on nuclear ‘alert’

Gregory Kulacki, the China project manager for the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), a Washington-based science advocacy group, argues that Trump’s NPR is surfacing at a time when China isn’t preparing to fight a nuclear war with the US. He says his talks with Chinese nuclear strategists indicate they don’t believe such an attack from the US is possible because the Americans know a sufficient number of Chinese missiles would survive to launch a nuclear counter-strike.

……… China, for its part, has urged the US to drop its “Cold War mentality” and not misread its intentions in modernizing its nuclear forces following the NPR’s release.

Miscalculation leading to war

Kulacki notes in his article that Chinese strategists have one worry: they fear the US might miscalculate by thinking it could escape full nuclear retaliation by using a massive first strike along with an anti-missile shield that can down any Chinese missiles that a pre-emptive attack would miss.

US negotiators, he says, are exacerbating such fears by declining to assure their Chinese counterparts that a US first strike is “off the table.”

 China’s relatively modest nuclear modernization efforts, according to Kulacki, are designed to ensure that enough of its intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) can survive a pre-emptive US attack and penetrate US missile defenses.

“In the absence of a no first-use commitment from the United States, these improvements are needed to assure China’s leaders their US counterparts won’t take the risk of attacking China with nuclear weapons,” Kulacki says in his piece………http://nationalinterest.org/blog/the-buzz/china-really-threatening-america-nuclear-weapons-24565

 

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February 21, 2018 - Posted by | China, weapons and war

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